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WATCH: Steve Freeth's Outright preview as the 2022 World Cup edges to its climax

Steve Freeth looks at the Outright market as the competition reaches the semi-final stage.

We've reached the final four, and the picture is beginning to look a little clearer.

Brazil and Argentina were both well-fancied before the tournament, and while we were denied a mouth-watering semi-final between perhaps the two biggest rivals in international football, it has opened the pathway to a first World Cup for Lionel Messi.

La Albiceleste have come a long way since that shock defeat to Saudi Arabia and are now 4/11 to reach a sixth World Cup final, and will be desperate to banish the demons of 1990 and 2014. Messi will be particularly keen to avenge the defeat in 2014, when his Argentina side fell to an extra-time defeat to Germany.

But Croatia are riding the crest of a wave having knocked tournament favourites Brazil out on penalties. Had Romelu Lukaku converted any of his numerous chances in the final group game, they wouldn't have made the last 16, and while they didn't look as strong as the side that made the final in 2018, Luka Modric continues to pull the strings, and they keep on finding a way.

Their 3-0 win over Argentina in 2018 consigned Jorge Sampaoli's men to a runner-up finish and a place in the much tougher half of the draw, where they'd lose a seven-goal thriller to France in the last 16. Croatia, meanwhile, needed penalties to get past Denmark and Russia before going to extra time again when beating England 2-1, and they can't be written off. 

You do wonder how much the two 120-minute matches have taken on them, particularly considering the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Perisic have all played prominent roles whilst the wrong side of 30, while captain Modric is 37 and continues to resemble the Duracell Bunny. 

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The second semi-final is equally intriguing, featuring a side widely written-off before the tournament and a side who nobody could have predicted to be here. Drawn in a group with Belgium and Croatia, merely reaching the last 16 would've been an achievement for Morocco, but they then blunted Spain to win on penalties, before another backs-to-the-walls performance saw them beat Portugal.

France have arguably been the best team of the tournament, so this represents Morocco's toughest test, but it's worth remembering the only goal the Atlas Lions have conceded was an own goal. Sides have simply not been able to break them down, and there are no guarantees France will be able to.

Should Didier Deschamps' men find a way past Bono, though, it will present an interesting challenge for Morocco, who will no longer be able to rely on their counter-attacking style. 

Should both games follow the odds, we'll be seeing an Argentina/France final.

Bet on who will reach the Final

But is it as simple as that?

Watch our video with Steve Freeth above, looking at the Outright market for the World Cup.

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